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Adz Plays... LA Noire

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The game takes place in late-1940s Los Angeles. You play as Cole Phelps, a police officer with World War 2 experience. He starts off as a patrolman, but it doesn't take long for him to be promoted to Detective. While you initially work in the 'Traffic' department, you get switched to other departments when the time is right.

The story is broken up into cases. Along with focusing on the case at hand, you also get to learn about a bit more about Cole, his partner and the other characters involved with the case. All the characters feel human. This is down to a mixture of good writing and the face-tracking hardware they decided to use. Between cases, you'll also get filled in with Cole's past during World War 2. Each intermission shows a short flashback from his time in the army, which eventually creates a bigger picture. They're worth paying attention to.

The game deals with a lot of subjects that most games would be scared of even touching, which I applaud them for. I really liked the boundaries they pushed. I'll leave you to find out what I mean by that...


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The game is set in an open world, much like Rockstar's other big hits. You're able to explore a slightly changed version of 1940s Los Angeles. While the map is apparently very accurate to LA at the time, some of the names have been changed. It doesn't have the interactivity of GTA or Red Dead, but it doesn't fall short of the detail you'd expect. If driving around isn't your thing, you can ask your partner to drive to locations of interest (and you won't miss any conversations).

As mentioned before, the game is split up into cases. At the start of each case, you'll need to investigate the evidence at the scene. New clues are pointed out with a sound effect and the controller rumbling. Not everything in the scene pertains to the case, but it's clear which items are whenever you discover them. You'll also need to acquire some information via telephone. It's in your best interest to find as many clues as possible. Some clues are very important, as they can be later used against a suspect.

Yep, it's Parkman from Heroes
Yep, it's Parkman from Heroes

Another key part of the game is interviewing witnesses and suspects. This is where facial expressions and body language come into play. You can ask people certain questions that relate to the investigation. Once they've given their answer, you can decide to take it as the truth or push them for a truthful answer. You can also accuse them of outright lying, but you'll need solid evidence. If you annoy the interviewee too much, they'll refuse to talk to you any further. It's all a case of looking at them, then making a decision based on their movements. Some people are very easy to read, while others require a bit more effort. I had a lot of trouble with it, I won't lie. I had to really think hard when it came to that part. Still, it was pretty satisfying whenever I got the correct answer.

Some investigations require more elaborate puzzle solving. An early case sees you assembling a device together, for example. I enjoyed the puzzles like that, as they provided a bit of variety from the standard investigation routine.

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Aside from investigating, you'll often be required to deal with situations typical of the GTA games. These include gunfights, chasing down a suspect on foot or in a car, brawling and tailing a suspect. They add a nice element of action to the game and makes it feel like a crime thriller of the era.

While you're doing a case, you'll also get a chance to respond to dispatch calls. These are little extra missions made up of gameplay you'll encounter during the main cases. For example, you may be expected to chase down a criminal or neutralise a gunfight. Admittedly, I only did two of them during my playthrough, but they seem alright if you want to get a bit extra out of the game.

In some ways, LA Noire is a bit like Heavy Rain. While the gameplay is a lot more involved, it's possible to carry on with the story if you mess up with parts of the investigation. Of course, it's ideal to pick up all the clues and get as much as you can from interviews, but you can still go forward. You only have to restart a segment if you lose a fistfight, get shot down, fail to catch a suspect on the run or fail to escape a dangerous situation. While your decisions have an effect on the case at hand, don't expect them to change the overall story.


The attention to detail is pretty much what you'd expect from Rockstar's pedigree. The world is well-realised and the accompanying soundtrack suits the era to a tee. It's obvious they did a great amount of research into the era and material based around it.

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The game makes spectacular use of face-tracking hardware. While it's not photo-realistic, it definitely adds an extra layer of depth that most games don't have. The facial expressions look extremely convincing. Upon completing the game, I looked up the cast and I was able to say 'Oh! He was that guy!' just by looking at their stock photo. Can't wait to see what the next-generation of consoles has in store for the techology...

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As much the game focuses on believability, the AI sometimes reminds you that it's just a game. During a chase scene, the suspect kept bumping into people and falling to the ground. Due to it being scripted, I was unable to apprehend him even though he had clearly stopped. Sure enough, he was able to run further. Your partner also tends to crash the car whenever you ask him to drive, which looks a bit silly while you're discussing the case with him. It's unfortunate, but understandable.

Perhaps my only general complaint about the presentation is the lack of noir-style narration. This is actually present early in the game, but it doesn't last very long. It would have been nice if they threw in a bit more. Just a minor complaint, though.


I'd been meaning to play LA Noire for a while...and it didn't disappoint. Rockstar really know how to put games together. I really hope there's a follow up to it. Seeing how well-received it was, I'd be very surprised if there isn't. If you're a fan of crime-solving fiction or you're just curious about the unique gameplay features, LA Noire is well worth your time.


Other Stuff

As promised, my next game will be Timeshift. Not expecting fireworks from it, but we'll see. From what little I've played so far, it's playable. It also has some nice graphics. The time control stuff seems a bit fiddly, but it's pretty cool. Maybe I'll get used to it in time (no pun intended).

I SHOULD be able to start FFIV if I complete Timeshift in a reasonable amount of time (again, no pun intended...). I'm supposed to be visiting my brother around Xmas, so I'm not sure how much time I'd have for it up there. He's not a big RPG fan, so I'd rather just play stuff we'd both be interested in (mainly action titles). My last FF game, V, took around a month to complete, so I'm pretty hopeful about getting it out of the way before then. I'll keep you posted on the situation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Can't see it being too long before the next entry.